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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Re: Harlem Hellfighters
In Response To: Re: Harlem Hellfighters ()

Mr. Dorty,

I agree with you that it is heartbreaking to see so many of us unconcerned with the history of our forebears. It drives me nuts to see people glorifying entertainers and sports figures as the best we have to offer; claiming descendancy from the kings and queens of Egypt instead of being proud of the survivors who pushed us, whole and strong, capable of any achievement, into the 21st century.

But I feel very strongly that it is a lack of education that has contributed to the disreguard we have for our own past. I don't mean education from the schools, although goodness knows the schools should do a better job of educating all children about the fullness of Black history.

My point is that we as a community need to get our stories out, to our young people, and all people, so that those who don't even know what they're missing will awaken to the majesty of our ancestors accomplishments. You can't appreciate what you don't know about.

A small example, I spoke to, nagged, my Dad last week for more stories. He is beginning to realize I'm serious about "this family history thing". He told me that he kind of felt bad, because his mother had wanted him to take us kids up to Erie, PA to see our civil war vet great great grandfather's grave. He didn't do it because he didn't think anyone would be interested (imagine 5 kids under 10, in a station wagon, driving for 3 hours in the hot summer of 1970 with no air conditioner to see the grave of some relative you never knew.)

Of course the grave is still there, but my grandmother is not. She knew her grandfather well, and could have told us stories about him, but because of a "lack of interest" all I ever heard was that one of our relatives fought in the Spanish American or Civil War and he was buried somewhere in Erie. Luckily, we got my Great Aunt on video a few years ago talking about this relative, and even though she didn't know as much as my grandmother, we got a few stories about this vet.

We have to get the information out there so that those people who would be very interested can find it. My son's school always asks parents to come in on birthdays and during the holidays to share family stories. I made a very simple xeroxed book of our family pictures and started to take it with me. All of the kids, we're talking five and six year olds, fought to sit on my lap and see the pictures. My son was proud because he had "cool" pictures and the kids, of all different ethnicities, were amazed at these pictures of Black people that go back to 1860. More importantly, his teacher told the school head about the book and she asked me to share it with the whole school: preschool to eighth grade. I have had parents come up to me asking to see this book they've heard so much about. I gave it to my Dad and he did a Black History presentation with it in another state and that school's principal called and asked me to send more stories. Of course, my brother wanted it for his kids and their school. . . it keeps growing, all from something that took me a day at Kinko's to copy.

I really believe there is a hunger out there for knowledge about Black history. The schools can't give it to our kids because they don't know it. So instead, people focus on what is in front of them, singers, actors, ballplayers. Movies and sports are fun, but I know, when you give people the opportunity to see real Black History they grab it and ask for more.

Best Wishes,

Lee


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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